Bill Irwin and “The Happiness Lecture”


I remember the first time I saw the performer Bill Irwin (pictured) on the street. I remember thinking, he’s much handsomer in person than he is onstage. Maybe it was because at that point I had only seen him in new-school-clown makeup, and observing him facially scrubbed made me, for the first time, recognize him as something more human. Truth is, I prefer him more “real” in the theater, too. He was quite a revelation a few seasons ago as George in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, and as the writer/star of “The Happiness Lecture,” currently at the Philadelphia Theatre Company (PTC), he is positively gleeful. Devoid of plot but stuffed with clowning, dance, puppetry, and video, this “Lecture” restores the luster to performance art. The evening’s ensemble is also excellent, especially Lee Ann Etzold as a dramaturge. “The Happiness Lecture” plays at PTC’s Suzanne Roberts Theatre through June 22.

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